Planned Preventative Chiller Maintenance

Large air cooled brown chiller with test equipment during planned preventative chiller maintenance

Planned Preventative Chiller Maintenance

Featuring planned preventative chiller maintenance- in a series of longer, in depth news articles:

News Article No.2

This time concentrating on the checks, adjustments and diagnosis our engineer carries out while on site. We can extend the life of your plant and reduce energy costs- just with the effect of our maintenance. As well as completing a detailed checklist which is sent in to your office in PDF form, our engineer carries out extensive F-gas leak testing.

Planned Preventative Maintenance of Chiller Controls

The first part of the maintenance is carried out to the controls of the redundant systems. This is because all the pressures and temperatures should be reading the same. If not, this is an opportunity for:

Sensor Calibration

Before calibrating a sensor that is reading out, our engineer carries out a diagnosis to assess the serviceability of the sensor. With NTP (negative temperature coefficient) and PTC (positive temperature coefficient) sensors, the resistance is taken at a given temperature, which is then compared with a chart. With pressure transducers the 0-5vdc feedback signal is analysed to see if it is within the allowable tolerance. Once this diagnosis is complete and the sensor is deemed to be in good working order, our engineer will then calibrate the sensor. A password is entered into the PLC (programmable logic controller) to gain access to the service menu. From here, he can select the particular sensor, then offset it by the required amount. A lot of controls are not linear, that is to say, a sensor reading 2° high being reduced by 2° may not calibrate correctly. An amount of trial and error is often required, also the monitoring of the sensor against a digital thermometer at various temperatures.

Program Settings and Timers

Each program setting and timer in the various menu levels is checked against the previous maintenance checklist. Sometimes these are changed accidentally by the onsite engineer when looking for something else- it is easily done.

Planned Preventative Chiller Maintenance of Safety Chain

Each component on the safety chain is manually tripped or the fault condition is replicated to cause the device to trip. This part of the PPM (planned preventative maintenance) is essential to ensure the safety chain protects the chiller during a fault condition. Compressor failure or evaporator freeze up can occur with dramatic cost implications. We routinely prevent small problems, such as a faulty switch, becoming big problems.

Planned Preventative Chiller Maintenance of Wiring

Each wire on the chiller is checked for tightness including the fans (on air cooled chillers) the compressor motor connectors and compressor contactor contacts. Loose line wiring will cause breaker and fuse faults. Loose control wiring will cause error messages and chiller faults. This is a call out in between visits that can be eliminated. With the effect of our maintenance, any chiller becomes more reliable and has lower energy costs.

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After the above stop checks are carried out, system run checks are carried out:

Superheat

Using R134a refrigerant as an example, the refrigerant pressure will be 1.9 bar at 0° This refrigerant is in the HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) family- a commonly used refrigerant. If the refrigerant vapour returning to the compressor is excessively superheated- this is a sign of system issues. Here are some of the causes for a high superheat condition:

Refrigerant Shortage

Not enough latent heat being absorbed by the refrigerant in the evaporator. This allows the refrigerant to carry on superheating with the available heat load. Refrigerant leak testing is required to identify any leaks. The history of maintenance checklists can be consulted to see if the issue had been deteriorating over several maintenance visits.

Expansion Valve Failure

A thermostatic expansion valve operates with a higher superheat value, whereby an electronic expansion valve has a much closer control. In either case, our engineer will be accustomed to the nominal readings.

Thermostatic Expansion Valves

This type of valve is operated with a power element and orifice. A bulb is clamped onto the suction pipe which is connected to the power element via a capillary tube. The power element is pressurised with the same refrigerant as in the chiller. Some of this refrigerant is in its liquid phase, so with an increase in temperature, there is a corresponding increase in pressure. This pressure acts against the diaphragm and so pushes the orifice open. The orifice allows more refrigerant through the valve. When load conditions change and there is a reduction in heat load, the reverse happens- the orifice closes and reduces the amount of refrigerant through the valve. When the power element looses its charge- the orifice shuts down causing a high superheat condition. A low pressure trip out can also occur.

Electronic Expansion Valves

This type of valve uses sensors on the liquid and vapour sides of the evaporator, or a transducer and sensor vapour side of the evaporator. This is so the program can work out the superheat value. If the sensors are faulty, the valve will not operate correctly and a high superheat condition may occur. If the step motor or driver have failed- replacement parts are required.

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Subcooling

This is the measurement of the refrigerant condition in the condenser. Air cooled condensers are particularly popular in the UK as the ambient conditions make them very efficient. Shell and tube condensers are used on lager systems- these are cooled down using a water tower. When there is a refrigerant shortage, the liquid does not stay in the condenser long enough for it to subcool sufficiently. Some of the refrigerant stays in its vapour phase. With not enough latent being rejected in the condenser- the chiller’s COP (coefficient of performance) will be reduced. This means high energy consumption relative to the refrigeration effect of the chiller. This condition can be remedied with a scheduled visit from one of our team.

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Process Chiller Maintenance Visit

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Centrifugal Chiller Maintenance

Industrial Chiller Maintenance

Air Cooled Chiller Condenser Maintenance

Glycol Chiller Maintenance

Chiller Maintenance Schedule

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For further reading on the subject of  preventive maintenance on Wikipedia | Click Here


Frost covered blue oil return vessel during the removal of industrial refrigeration sludge

Industrial Refrigeration Sludge

This industrial refrigeration visit is to remove sludge from the system. There had been a long period of neglect prior to Maximus Chillers attending site, so regular oil changes had not been carried out. Two oil changes have now been carried out and still a small amount of sludge still remains in the system.

Industrial Refrigeration Sludge Removal

Due to previous sludge removal, the plant was down to about half of its 60kg charge of refrigerant. It was starting to show signs of refrigerant shortage as the machine was preventing loading up. An ammonia suitable pump out unit was used to decant the remaining refrigerant into a cylinder for disposal.

Pressure and Temperature

Once this had been carried out, any residual refrigerant in the oil and liquid on the low side of the plant was carefully handled until the plant was at the same pressure and temperature of the surrounding environment. See picture of some remaining liquid boiling off in an oil return vessel on the bottom of the flooded evaporator.

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Industrial Refrigeration Sludge Oil

Once the pressure and temperatures equalized, our engineer drained the oil in the system from four different vessels. The oil was then removed from site for recycling. Usually, pressure helps with the process, but as the system was empty, gravity was sufficient for most parts of the plant. Nitrogen being introduced to the oil supply pipe to push it back to the oil separator.

Flushing Agent

A flushing agent specially formulated for use in ammonia systems was used to aid the removal of sludge and oil from the pipework around the chiller.

Evacuation

After a pressure test, the evacuation process was started. This was to boil off any remaining flushing agent, to remove non condensables and remove any moisture. A near perfect vacuum was achieved.

Run up

New refrigeration grade anhydrous ammonia was charged into the system, a little at first to check for any leaks. Then, the plant was checked for effective running conditions. All readings were okay with the compressor loading up to 100% before backing off to match the load.

Related Articles:
Industrial Refrigeration Ammonia

Industrial Refrigeration Oil

Read more about oil analysis and testing at the Institute of Refrigeration | Click Here


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